Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Union Club

Posted a day early this week ...

Life could be difficult for the turn-of-the-last-century head of a local gambling combine. Your stock in trade has been declared illegal, but thanks to steep fines and rampant graft you’re able to eke out a modest living. Then one morning you wake up to discover you have a competitor. One who flat out refuses to pay off law enforcement the way you do. Who also happens to be one of the most famous lawmen of the American West.

Such was the fate of Seattle’s John Considine. A sober man in a shady profession, he used his three gambling clubs to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in the city. Then, in November 1899, Wyatt Earp rode into town and announced that with partner Thomas Urquhart he’d be opening the Union Club on Second Avenue South near Yesler Way. Earp was no longer wearing a badge; he’d already run a saloon in the Klondike, and his reputation had been tarnished thanks to his role as referee in an 1896 prizefight in which he was accused of fraud. The public skirmish between various Seattle sporting factions affected the mayoral election and led to a brief crackdown on vice. By the time it ended Earp had long since left, his stay in the Emerald City a footnote. (As for Considine, he ended up killing the former police chief who accused him of paying for his 17-year-old contortionist mistress’s abortion and then became a theater impresario and vaudeville pioneer. But as the man said, that’s another story.)

It’s only appropriate that a Seattle-based bartender honor Wyatt Earp’s contribution to the city’s history. That bartender is Jamie Boudreau, once of Vessel and now proprietor of Canon. His Union Club cocktail is part of the noble tradition of whiskey/Campari drinks. But instead of finishing with, say, a vermouth, Jamie blends maraschino with a tart blast of orange juice for a nuanced and wholly satisfying flavor. He’s currently pouring these at Canon with rye. I enjoyed mine so much I prepared one at home with bourbon. Either way, the result will likely have you making some contortions of your own.

The Union Club

Jamie Boudreau, Seattle

2 oz. bourbon (or rye)
1.5 oz. orange juice
.5 oz maraschino
.5 oz Campari

Shake. Strain. No garnish.